PICTURES: Late Luke Cowan-Dickie try helps England seal opening victory
ENGLAND U20…15 SCOTLAND U20…6
LUKE COWAN-DICKIE scored a late try to ensure England opened the defence of their Under-20s Six Nations crown with a win over Scotland at Brickfields last night.
The prop, who is dual-registered with Plymouth Albion, made a barnstorming break down the left touchline and, despite being tackled close to the tryline, made a terrific second effort to ground the ball and seal the victory on the opening weekend of this season's championship.
Plymouth's Henry Slade – named the Sky Sports HD man of the match – kicked five points, with one penalty and a first half conversion following an England penalty try.
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Slade's penalty after an hour extended England's lead to 10-6.
Slade narrowly missed two more penalty attempts, which would have made it 13-6 and put Scotland a converted try behind, before Cowan-Dickie's score.
England edged a tight first half 7-6 before, with a swirling wind behind their backs, controlling possession and territory after the break.
Cowan-Dickie led from the front, carrying the fight to Scotland and making good ground every time he did so after the interval.
A happy Slade said afterwards: "It was a tough win. Scotland obviously had the wind and came at us hard in the first half.
"We struggled to get out our half at times and they forced us to run the ball more, and we coughed up a few balls.
"But in the end we're happy with the points. It was a tough night, but a win's a win."
Plymouth's Jack Arnott, who started on the wing, said: "Scotland came here with a good gameplan and kept it pretty tight.
"We may not have all clicked at the same time tonight, but for our first performance in this year's championship I think we showed our intent.
"Hopefully, it's only going to get better for us now."
Arnott added: "We always knew Scotland were going to come at us, but we knew if we could weather that storm, we could push on with the wind behind us in the second half.
"The key was not to rest on our laurels in the second half and keep pushing and keep working hard, even though we had the wind then."
England are two-time defending Under-20s Six Nations champions and bidding to be the first team to make it three titles on the bounce in 2013.
This year's championship climaxes in the fifth and final round of matches in six weeks on March 17.
There was real Plymouth and South West interest in the England squad.
Slade and Arnott were included alongside former Ivybridge Community College student Sam Hill, current Ivybridge CC player Joel Conlon and Cowan-Dickie.
All five made England's starting XV, with Hill at centre, Slade at fly-half, Cowan-Dickie at prop and Conlon at flanker.
The England and Scotland flags were flying proudly at one end of Brickfields to help mark the occasion last night.
Scotland were out first, a full hour before kick-off warming-up and getting to grips with the unfamiliar surface at Brickfields, which looked very heavy in patches.
It was nice to see Brickfields so busy before kick-off. A decent atmosphere was building.
Scotland led 3-0 on five minutes after enjoying all the early territory. Cowan-Dickie was penalised for pulling down a scrum inside England's half and Scotland fly-half Tommy Allan, from a central position, kicked the three points.
Slade had an immediate chance to equalise with a penalty from a similar position in the Scotland half, just to the right. He struck it well, but couldn't convert.
Scotland continued to dominate territory and possession, playing the game in the England half, before, after half an hour, England started to get to grips with their opponents and the occasion, moving the majority of play into midfield at least.
Slade made a great break in midfield and offloaded to the supporting Hill, who looked like he might go in, going for the left corner. Hill cut back inside, but didn't have the pace to evade a frantically backtracking defender and fumbled.
England's scrum was now dominant.
After a series of scrums in front of the Scotland posts – and with the visitors down to 14 men after Ruaridh Leishman was yellow carded for a professional foul and killing the ball – England were awarded a penalty try.
The Scotland scrum could not cope with the pressure of the England pack and kept killing the scrum.
Slade kicked the easy conversion right in front of the posts to put England 7-3 up on 35 minutes.
Close to half-time Scotland replied with another Allan penalty near the right touchline, which made it 7-6 at half-time.
In a sense, both camps would have been relatively happy at the break. England would have been pleased their pressure had finally told; Scotland would have pleased they had started and finished the half with points to show for their efforts.
Arnott said: "We've got some strong boys, with the likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie, in the front row. That penalty try turned the game I think."
England: Anthony Watson, Jack Arnott, Harry Sloan, Sam Hill, Ben Howard, Henry Slade, Alex Day, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Max Crumpton, Kyle Sinckler, Elliott Stooke, Dom Barrow, Ross Moriarty, Joel Conlon, Jack Clifford.
Replacements: Danny Herriott, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Scott Wilson, Tom Jubb, Gus Jones, Nathan Fowles, Will Hooley, Mark Jennings.
Scotland: Keith Buchan, Damian Hoyland, Chris Auld, Mark Bennett, Rory Hughes, Tommy Allan, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Jamie Bhatti, Russell Anderson, D'arcy Rae, Adam Sinclair, Jonny Gray, Ruaridh Leishman, Will Bordill, Adam Ashe.
Replacements: Callum Black, Shawn Muir, Phil Cringle, Cameron Turner, Tommy Spinks, Ali Price, Alex Hagart, Robbie Fergusson.
Referee: Claudio Blessano (FIR)
Other Under-20s Six Nations 2013 results: Italy U20 6 France U20 13, Wales U20 17 Ireland U20 15